When the CPA decided to move toward a more customer focused approach and changed the name of its enforcement department to Parking Safety and Compliance (PSC), the team had no idea that its mandate would include not only parking safety and education but also lessons in local culture.
To support the CPA’s renewed focus on customer service, employees from across the business attended events throughout 2019 to answer questions and share knowledge, including neighbourhood meetings at community centres and recreation facilities, and hosting a booth at Jubilee Auditorium performances to support attendees with new parking technologies.
Late in the year, an English-as-a-second-language teacher from a nearby branch of the YWCA reached out on behalf of a group of concerned students wondering why they had received tickets on their windshields when they parked to attend classes. The teacher asked for help in explaining parking bylaws to the class of new immigrants of varying ages and backgrounds.
Amanda Redlick, a Mobile Patrol Supervisor in PSC, jumped at the chance. “I think people don’t park illegally on purpose, but I think the signs can be confusing. So any opportunity I have to educate has always been important to me.”
The presentation to the ESL students proved to be rewarding on a number of levels. “I’ve never had a group be so captivated. The presentation was very interactive. People asked a lot of questions.”
Amanda also found some unique ways to manage the language barrier. To help explain the meaning of various signs, she found herself gesturing, pointing at the graphic aspects of the signs or drawing figures to help get the points across.
“When they understood what I was trying to explain, their eyes would light up, and that was pretty cool.”
While staff at the YWCA understood the importance of being able to comprehend and follow the instructions on parking signs, the presentation took on a larger significance because the YWCA had recently moved into its new location in Inglewood.
“It was an interesting time to have that presentation,” says Zandile Moyo, a supervisor with YWCA’s LINC program that provides language instruction to newcomers. “We had just moved from our downtown location and moved into a community where people live close to and around our building."
At some point during the presentation, Amanda determined that the students had not actually received parking tickets; instead, local residents had left handwritten notes on their windshields to express their concern about the influx of parkers in the neighbourhood.
"This became an interesting conversation for people from other cultures and countries,” says Zandile. “This was a good lesson in what being a good neighbour means.”
“As people who have lived in Calgary a long time or all our lives, we take these nuances about culture and the importance of following rules for granted. This presentation helped our students understand how to be a part of the community.”
Ultimately, the discussions in the classroom that day helped the CPA staff appreciate the positive aspects of community outreach and gave a few of Calgary’s newest residents a better understanding of parking safety and street signs as well as a glimpse into the subtleties of what it means to be a good neighbour.
Since its inception in 1968, the Calgary Parking Authority has had an important mandate to serve our community in the best way we can.
Prominently featuring the iconic Palliser Hotel and the Calgary Tower, that for decades defined the downtown skyline, 9th Avenue is cemented in the city’s history as a primary east-west thoroughfare.
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